The Detroit Red Wings will have ample cap space with which to work during the 2020 offseason, but there are a couple of players who’ve become a drag on the team’s salary structure in one Frans Nielsen (signed for 2 more years at a $5.25 million cap hit) and Justin Abdelkader (signed for 3 more years at a $4.25 million cap hit).
Per CapFriendly, the Red Wings would have to pay Nielsen 1/3rd of his salary over twice the length of his contract, which translates to a cap hit that ranges between $666K and $4.4 million for four years (per CapFriendly’s buyout calculator), while buying out Abdelkader would translate to a cap hit between $1.8 and 2.3 million for the next six years.
All of that being said, given that the salary cap will remain flat for the next two seasons (at least), Sportsnet’s Luke Fox believes that the Wings should swallow hard and buy out Abdelkader:
Justin Abdelkader, three years at a $4.25-million cap hit
Because the rebuilding Red Wings are in no rush to spend to the cap and assemble an immediate contender, and because they’ll also have a bunch of expensive contracts coming off the books this summer (Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Ericsson, Trevor Daley), they can still absorb overpaid veterans like Abdelkader and Frans Nielsen (two more years at a $5.25-million hit) with ease.
Here’s the question: Does Steve Yzerman still want a 36-year-old Abdelkader taking up cap space in 2023? Or is it worth keeping some good pros around to groom the next wave?
It’s easy to look at Abdelkader’s 2019-20 numbers — zero goals, three assists, minus-14 rating — and start dreading another three declining years of overpaying a depth winger.
There could be sentiment at play here, with Abdelkader being a loyal, career-long Wing and a respected leader.
But remember this: Yzerman once bought out local hero Vincent Lecavalier when he served as Tampa’s GM.
A more modest but effective move might be buying out veteran Darren Helm, who is due $3.85 million for one more year.
Continued with a list of possible buyout candidates from around the league.
I wouldn’t buy out Abdelkader this year, but I might pull the Daniel Cleary treatment and send him to Grand Rapids if he doesn’t perform up to par at the NHL level.
Nielsen wants to stick around for at least one more year, and I at least feel that Darren Helm is still a useful player.